So, it's been a month since World Fantasy. In that month, I had hoped to write a passel of short stories, like I did in April. I didn't and I want to talk a little bit about why. Not just in the interest of accountiblity and full disclosure of my flaws and my journey. Yes, I want to be on the record so I or anyone else can look back and see what was going on in my writing life. But I want explain what I think the failure was caused by.
But first, a few sentences of context. I am applying again for Clarion West. It is pretty much the best writer education program in the country if you want to write fantasy and sci-fi, as I do. (Clarion and Oddysey also deserve mention as well) This year, the states are even higher because George R. R. Martin is teaching. Now he's not a paragon of perfection but he has written three books that may be the most important and highest quality fantasy since JRR Tolkien. I want to learn from him, even for a week. Naturally, so do a whole lot of other people.
So the Clarion West application is competetive. You need to send in your best work. Last year, the first two chapters of Angel Odyssey weren't good enough. So, my plan this year was to submit short stories instead. Which brings me to how I blocked myself.
You see, unlike April, when my goal was just to write 30 short stories in 30 days, (about anything and they didn't need to be good, just complete) I set the goal of writing something great. Something that would catch the judges eye and make them tap me on the shoulder and say 'you're in'. I want that, need it almost.
So my bar for creation was so high, that I rejected ideas before I even sat down to write them. I have myself stress headaches out of sheer expectataion. I needed to write great fantasy, great sci-fi. I needed to be great and I wasn't willing to settle for anything less.
Well, guess what? I didn't settle. And I didn't produce anything great. See that's the lesson. Don't try for greatness. Just try. Don't write the greatest thing you've ever written, just write. Writing is hard enough, God knows, without putting the additional burden of NEEDING to be great. Don't do what I did. Just write. Write what you love, what makes you laugh, what entertains YOU. Just write and don't worry about greatness.
So what am I going to do? Am I going to take my own advice?
I'd like to. I'd like to just write a bunch of stuff and see how it comes out. I WOULD like to use my critique group as a resource. It helps a lot to have other eyes on your work. But time is running out. I wanted to get Smooth Running up and for sale by...well, two weeks ago...and ideally before Christmas. But is that my real priority? Smooth Running can go up anytime, and if I miss this holiday season, well, there will be another one. (I'm hoping and trusting...assuming the Mayans were wrong) But I have one shot at Clarion West this year. I think I need to take it.
So, I am going to dedicate a week, a solid 7 days to writing. I'm going to write seven to ten short stories (I can crank them out when I get going and don't get in my own way). Then I'm going to re-read them and submit the best to my group for feedback. Then, the rest of the month, editing time. And at the end of the month, on December 31st, if not earlier, I'm sending my application off. I don't know if there will be anything great. But if all goes well, there will be two or three stories that I enjoyed writing and reading.
I'm going to try to just write.